Former New York City Democratic Mayor Ed Koch died Friday morning at the age of 88. He served three terms in office from 1978 to 1989. Koch is widely credited with rescuing the city from the brink of financial ruin, an achievement Democracy Now! co-host Juan González notes was also the result of sacrifices from labor unions. González describes Koch’s mixed legacy, from his earlier days opposing the Vietnam War to his hostile relations with African Americans and Latinos, to the launch of a massive low-income housing program. Koch also took criticism for his handling of the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the city. He was known for his feisty demeanor, which gave him a national reputation and sparked multiple political controversies. "He always sort of represented that combative spirit of New Yorkers," González says. "His most famous line was: 'How am I doing?' And I think that people who look back now at his period of time will say, 'Well, Mayor, you did pretty well.'"
In a rare live interview, Mumia Abu-Jamal calls into Democracy Now! as the new film, "Long Distance Revolutionary," about his life premieres in New York City this weekend. After 29 years on death row, he is now being held in general population at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution – Mahanoy. "How free are we today, those who claim to be non-prisoners? Your computers are being read by others in government. Your letters, your phone calls are being intercepted," says Mumia Abu-Jamal. "We live now in a national security state, where the United States is fast becoming one of the biggest open-air prisons on earth. We can speak about freedom, and the United States has a long and distinguished history of talking about freedom, but have we exampled freedom? And I think the answer should be very clear: We have not." In 1982, Mumia was sentenced to die for killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. He has always maintained his innocence and is perhaps America’s most famous political prisoner. In 2011, an appeals court upheld his conviction, but also vacated his death sentence. It found jurors were given confusing instructions.
The new documentary, "Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal,” premieres today in New York City. We play an excerpt of the film and speak to writer, producer and director Steve Vittoria, as well as Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio, who has interviewed Abu-Jamal many times over the years. The features many supporters of Mumia, including actress Ruby Dee, writer Tariq Ali, and author Michelle Alexander.
Ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl, the safety of football is coming under increasing scrutiny as more evidence emerges about links between concussions and brain damage. President Obama recently weighed in on the issue saying, "If I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football." We speak to former professional wrestler Chris Nowinski, co-founder the Sports Legacy Institute and co-director of the Center for Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine, which maintains a bank of more than 140 athletes and military veterans in order to study the effects of concussions. He is the author of the book, "Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis,” which is the focus of a new documentary.